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Trader Vic vs. Don the Beachcomber: Who Really Invented the Mai Tai?

The Mai Tai is a favorite cocktail all over the world, and it is one of the most treasured drinks served at House of Genji. Who is responsible for creating this classic cocktail? The answer depends on who you ask. There are two different restaurateurs who claim that claim that they invented the Mai Tai, and their flavors are very different from each other. For today’s cocktail lounge guests, the history is less important than the classic flavor of this potent rum-based drink. Here’s a closer look at the history of the Mai Tai.

Don the Beachcomber

Don Beach was the owner of a once-popular chain of tiki-inspired restaurants in California called Don the Beachcomber. He claims to have in invented the Mai Tai in 1933 and says that Mai Tai recipes that debuted later were ripped off from his idea. The Mai Tai served by Don the Beachcomber is different from the standard Mai Tai recipe used today, and incorporated Pernod, grapefruit juice, and falernum. Because the recipe is different from today’s standard, many people dismiss Don the Beachcomber’s story today.

Trader Vic

Trader Vic is the person who usually gets credit for the modern Mai Tai. Trader Vic—also known as Victor J. Bergeron—is the owner of a California restaurant chain named Trade Vic’s. He claims to have created the Mai Tai when he had friends visiting from Tahiti. One friend is said to have explained, “Maita’i roa ae,” upon tasting the drink, which means “out of this world,” in Tahitian—and thus the name of the cocktail was decided. Trader Vic’s Mai Tai contains Oregeat, a mixture of dark and light rums, and orange Curacao.

Visit the cocktail lounge at House of Genji to sip on one of our famous Mai Tai cocktails as you muse the history of the drink. You’ll also love our Japanese steakhouse menu and teppanyaki grill. Reserve your table by calling our Japanese restaurant in San Jose by calling (408) 453-8120.

Must-See Summer Festivals in Japan

Summertime festivals are a way of life in Japan, and there are multiple festivals to see all over the country during the summer months. Lovers of Japanese dining will be excited to taste all of the foods that are popular at festivals. Exploring a festival is an excellent way to immerse yourself in Japanese culture and to have a once-in-a-lifetimes experience unlike anything else in the world. If you plan to visit Japan in the summer, here are some of the festivals that you can consider attending.

Tanabata Festival

Tanabata festival is based on a myth about the gods Orihime and Hikoboshi. Legend says that they were separated by the Milky Way but are reunited each year on the seventh day of the seventh month. Tanabata translates to “evening of seven,” and as such, it often begins on July 7. However, there are some regional variations in the start date of the festival. Tanabata festival attendees write their wishes on colorful paper and suspend them from bamboo.

Obon

Obon, which is also known as the Bon festival, is one of the biggest in Japan. It is held to honor ancestors and lost loved ones. People celebrate Obon in multiple ways, including doing a dance called Bon Odori and visiting the gravesites of lost loved ones. Obon is not a national holiday, but traditionally, most people get three days or more off of work at this time to spend time with family.

Fireworks

Fireworks displays are considered to be part of summer festival season. They are often included in Tanabata and Obon, and they are also incorporated into small, local and regional festivals. Sometimes, fireworks displays themselves are the reason for community gatherings. These happen throughout the summer, all over the country.

If you have can’t make it to Japan for festival season, you can make it to House of Genji for Japanese dining at its finest. Indulge in a Japanese cultural favorite—teppanyaki—as well as hibachi and a range of other Japanese staple dishes. Find out more about teppanyaki in San Jose and our other menu items by calling (408) 453-8120.

What Is Tempura?

Not many people make tempura on their own, and instead they head to their local Japanese restaurant to get their fill. This dish originated in Portugal, but it was Japan that ultimately made it famous, which is why you can find it in Japanese restaurants. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about tempura.

Tempura is a seafood or vegetable dish that has been lightly battered and deep fried, and it’s become a staple of Japanese cuisine. The batter consists of chilled water, eggs, and flour, and it should come out thin and light. You can add ice to keep the batter cold, and don’t stir it so much that you remove all the lumps, or it won’t be crisp. After the fish or vegetables have been dipped in the batter, they are deep fried in a hot, neutral-flavored oil like canola.

If you like Japanese dining, call House of Genji at (408) 453-8120 to set up a reservation with us. We are a Japanese restaurant serving San Jose, and you can learn much more about us by looking through our website.

Catch a Glimpse of Nightlife in Tokyo

Tokyo, Japan is one of the most famous cities in the world, and tourists and locals alike enjoy the Japanese restaurants, bars, and clubs that make up the nightlife. Watch this video for a glimpse of nightlife in Tokyo.

If it’s your first time in Tokyo, head to Roppongi. This is a hotspot for tourists because locals are so friendly towards Gaijin, or foreigners. Bars like Agave and R2 make for a great place to start your first trip. An izakaya, which translates to “stay-in liquor shop”, is a more traditional type of meeting spot, and it tends to be more affordable than other upscale restaurants and bars.

There are plenty of cocktail lounges in Tokyo, but if you’re looking for a Japanese restaurant serving San Jose, head to House of Genji. We offer delectable Japanese dining and a taste of what Tokyo has to offer, so call us at (408) 453-8120.

A Look at the Traditional Mai Tai

Mai Tai is a popular cocktail—it was even President Richard Nixon’s go-to drink. The definition of what makes a Mai Tai has loosened over the years, but you can still get a traditional drink at a Japanese cocktail lounge. If you’d like to know where the drink came from, how to make it, and what people do with it today, read on for a look at the traditional Mai Tai.

Where It Came From

Today’s variations of the Mai Tai tend to be far off from the traditional recipe, and this is due in part to its explosive popularity. The phrase “Mai Tai” actually means “the best”, and the name is said to stem from one of the first reactions upon tasting the drink. The rum-based cocktail was introduced in 1944, although its roots may trace back to 1933.

Mai Tai Evolution

Vic Bergeron, also known as Trader Vic, is said to be the founder of Mai Tai and was the one to introduce the drink in 1944. He exclusively used 17-year-old rum, in the mix, and when that ran out, he switched to a 15-year Wray and Nephew. Then that ran out as well, at which point he started blending different types of rum to create the same flavor. Mai Tai sprang up in Hawaii in the 1950s, and it was then that pineapple and orange juices were used to make the drink more accessible to tourists, and the fruity flavors stuck.

Modern Variations

The true original Mai Tai is no more, but there are modern variations that pay homage to the original flavors. You can make a modern sparkling Mai Tai with aged rum, blended overproof rum, dry curacao, sparkling wine, orgeat, lime juice, and a lime twist.

Remember to order a Mai Tai when you find yourself in a Japanese cocktail lounge in San Jose. You can try a traditional Mai Tai when you stop by House of Genji, and you can also try out our delicious dishes. If you’re interested in Japanese dining, call us at (408) 453-8120 or visit our website to learn more.

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